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Nervous tic: what it is, causes, symptoms and treatment

Nervous tics correspond to motor or vocal action performed repetitively and involuntarily, such as blinking the eyes several times, moving the head or sniffing the nose, for example, which can be triggered by some everyday situations, such as stress, anxiety and excessive tiredness, for example.

Tics usually appear in childhood and usually disappear without any treatment during adolescence or early adulthood.

Tics are not serious and, in most cases, do not interfere with daily activities. However, when tics are more complex and occur more frequently, it is important to consult a neurologist or psychiatrist for the diagnosis, as it could be Tourette’s Syndrome, for example.

Main symptoms

Nervous tics correspond to involuntary muscle contractions, more common in the face and neck, which can result in:

  • Eyes blinking repetitively;
  • Move your head, such as tilting it back and forth or sideways;
  • Biting your lips or moving your mouth;
  • Work your nose;
  • Shrug your shoulders;
  • Faces.

In addition to motor tics, there may also be tics related to the emission of sounds, such as coughing, clicking the tongue and sniffing the nose, for example.

Tics are usually mild and not limiting, but there is still a lot of prejudice and unpleasant comments related to people with nervous tics, which can result in isolation, reduced affective circle, unwillingness to leave the house or perform activities that were previously pleasant and even depression.

What is the difference between tic disorder and Tourette syndrome?

Compared to Tourette’s syndrome, nervous tics are lighter and more discrete, not having as much impact on the person’s quality of life. Tourette’s syndrome is characterized by more frequent and complex tics that can compromise the person’s quality of life, as in addition to common tics, such as eye blinking, for example, there are also punches, kicks, tinnitus, noisy breathing and chest pounding , for example, all movements being performed involuntarily.

Many people with the syndrome develop impulsive, aggressive and self-destructive behaviors, and children often have learning difficulties.

A child with Tourette’s Syndrome may repeatedly move his head from side to side, blink his eyes, open his mouth, and extend his neck. The person may speak obscenities for no apparent reason, often in the middle of a conversation. Learn more about Tourette’s syndrome.

Causes of tic disorder

The causes of nervous tics are still not well understood, but they usually happen as a consequence of excessive and frequent tiredness, stress and anxiety disorder. However, people who are under constant stress or feel anxious most of the time will not necessarily have tics.

Some people believe that the occurrence of tics is related to a failure in one of the brain circuits due to genetic alterations, which causes increased production of dopamine, stimulating involuntary muscle contractions.

How is the treatment of tic disorder done

Nervous tics usually disappear during adolescence or early adulthood, and no treatment is needed. However, it is recommended that the person undergo treatment for tics when they interfere with their daily activities, such as work and studies, for example, when there is discomfort, in the presence of emotional changes, such as depression or anxiety, or when tics interfere in social life.

Therefore, the use of adrenergic or antipsychotic medications, such as clonididne, fluphenazine, risperidone or botulinum toxin, for example, may be indicated, which should be prescribed by the psychiatrist according to the type of tic, its severity and the symptoms present.

Psychotherapy is also indicated in the treatment of tics, the cognitive-behavioral technique being the most used through the “Exhaustive Behavioral Intervention for the Treatment of Tics” and the “Scandinavian Manual”, and this therapy can be done individually or in sessions group that aims to tolerate or inhibit tic disorder.

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